Saturday 26 November 2022 Week 34 in Ordinary Time
The angel showed me, John, the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans. The ban will be lifted. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘All that you have written is sure and will come true: the Lord God who gives the spirit to the prophets has sent his angel to reveal to his servants what is soon to take place. Very soon now, I shall be with you again.’ Happy are those who treasure the prophetic message of this book.
Psalm 94 Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
Travelling through India I was introduced to the Hindu deity Shiva who is called the destroyer, or the creator of Chaos. A comment I heard at the time, compared the destructiveness of Shiva with the creativity and kindness of our God and Father. The readings today, and of last weeks, would make us think otherwise, and leave us wondering about the benevolence of our God. Why would God want to bring the world to an end at the Second Coming with such trials and tribulations?
We preach a God who is love, come as human in Jesus, to redeem us from our sin. Our redemption is the central point of the apocalyptic texts we have been hearing. In God all things find their purpose and meaning, their fulfilment and their harmony. God remains a God of love, despite the outrage of human emotion.
It is the nature of humanity to create its own chaos and turbulence. We have a successful history of doing this. Our history of war, of violence, of exploitation, of unbridled greed goes before us. Indeed, as the Gospel reminds us, we must watch ourselves, so our hearts do not become coarsened.
We are called to stay awake. To remain connected and attentive to God, for this is the meaning of “pray at all times”. How could the God of creation destroy the very beauty he has designed? And why would the God of love seek to destroy the humanity he delights in so deeply? Death is not God’s idea according to Paul, but the result of sinful humanity. Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Or in John 11, “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Remember that the message of this liturgical season is hope. We only find balance and hope by keeping our vision firmly affixed upon Jesus. By seeking out his way to follow. By coming to know the sentiments of his heart and imitating his attitudes. He is our hope and our delight and our joy.